In the Sunday night daycare fire that killed five Erie, Pennsylvania, children, Erie resident Shevona Overton lost four.
La’Myhia Jones, 8; Luther Jones Jr., 6; Ava Jones, 4; and nine-month-old Jaydan Augustyniak perished in the Harris Family Daycare fire. “I’m just so hurt my babies are gone,” Overton told Erie News Now. “I love them dearly. I just hurt inside knowing that my kids were fighting and hurting in that fire. Every minute, I feel the same pain.”
Joe Crotty, volunteer fire chief of Lawrence Park Township, says Luther Jones, a volunteer firefighter, was the father of three of the deceased. The fire was reported in the wee hours of Sunday morning, already blazing out of every first floor window. Valerie Lockett-Slupski, grandmother to four of the children, told the Erie Times-News that the family is “at a loss, trying to figure out how this happened.”
Erie Chief Fire Inspector John Widomski said the cause of the fire remains under investigation. Notable, however, are two items on the daycare’s last inspection: first, “ashes and cigarette or cigar butts” in “a child care space, play space or food preparation area,” and second, a lack of “protective receptacle covers… in electrical outlets accessible to children 5 years of age or younger.”
Both issues were listed as “corrected,” with the childcare provider’s promise to “make sure [the cigarettes and ashes] will be cleaned up and remain that way” and that electrical outlets would be “turned closed when not in use.” The owner has been admitted to UPMC Mercy for treatment and is reportedly in stable condition.